• All The Sins Of Sodom / Vibrations

    Released by: Film Movement
    Released On: September 26th, 2017.
    Director: Joe Sarno
    Cast: Sue Akers, Morris Kaplan, Maria Lease, Peggy Steffans, Marianne Prevost, Cherie Winters,
    Rita Bennett
    Year: 1968/1968
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    The Movies:

    The second volume in Film Movement/FILMmedia’s Joseph W. Sarno Retrspect Series of double feature Blu-ray releases pairs two films made very close to one another in 1968. The first release in this series was Vampire Ecstasy / Sin You Sinners and it’s been reviewed here.

    All The Sins Of Sodom:

    First up is All The Sins Of Sodom (which also played under the title All The Evils Of Satan), previously released on DVD by Secret Key Motion Pictures and then as a limited edition (now out of print) Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome. A treat for the director’s legion of fans, this melodramatic black and white tale of a photographer and the obsession that leads to his inevitable downfall is ripe with allegory, atmosphere and ample bosoms!

    The film follows the exploits of a well known New York City photographer referred to only as Henning. His agent wants him to shoot a portfolio of simple nudes and he agrees, but Henning is more interested in shooting his pet project - a photo shoot that he hopes will capture the inner evils that hide within women. He starts by taking some provocative shots of Leslie (Maria Lease), a pretty young thing with short dark hair, who sheds her duds and poses with some strings that hang from the ceiling. After their shoot they go to bed together, where Henning tells her that generally after sleeping with a woman he never wants to see them again, but things are different with her, because he does want to see her again.

    When Henning’s agent brings him a new model named Joyce (Sue Akers), Henning winds up taking pity on her. She tells him she’s out on the street with no money and he allows her to stay in the spare room of his studio. As Henning goes about shooting the various models that come into his studio, becoming increasingly disenchanted with the results, he turns to Joyce, seeing in her the evil he is so intent on capturing, but Joyce isn’t all she appears to be and her manipulative ways soon prove to be Henning’s undoing…

    Filled with some interesting foreshadowing through biblical references (Henning quotes scripture more than once when he tells us about his preacher father), All The Sins Of Sodom is a pretty interesting picture. Beautifully shot by cinematographer Steven Silverman, it makes excellent use of its high contrast shadowy photography to build a wonderfully noirish atmosphere with plenty of tension. We know from the minute Joyce walks into Henning’s life what’s going to happen, but just how it’s going to happen is where the twist lies, and it’s a pretty good one that will keep you guessing.

    Performance wise, the film is also pretty strong. The man who plays Henning, an unidentified actor with a whole lot of body hair, isn’t so much sympathetic as he is obsessive and while it’s maybe a little hard to feel sorry for him, he does make for an interesting character, especially because in a way he predicts his own downfall very early on in the picture. The female cast steals the show, however, with Maria Lease and Sue Akers (a pseudonym, likely) oozing sensuality, both women lit and shot with an almost fetishistic eye for composition. The dialogue that goes back and forth between these two apples of Henning’s eye is venomous! Peggy Steffans and Morris Kaplan both have supporting roles in the picture, the bulk of which takes place inside Kaplan’s studio save for a couple of nice exterior shots that show of Midtown New York City in late 1967 or early 1968.


    The second feature was previously released on DVD through Something Weird Video (in fact the SWV logo appears on the back of the packaging for this release and also appears on the screen before the feature starts).

    Barbara (Marianne Prevost) is meek and mild, a pretty young woman hoping to make a go of her fledgling writing career in New York City. Upon her arrival she shacks up at The Edison Hotel and sets out to work, hammering out poems and scripts for which she’s paid just enough to get by. She’s also intrigued by her charming neighbor but when her domineering sister Julia (Maria Lease) arrives on the scene, things get weird. See, these sisters have a bit of a past – when they were younger, they fooled around. Barbara carries that as guilt, while Julia seems more nonchalant about it all. Regardless, Barbara lets Julia stay for a while, even if the tension that exists between the two young women is clearly pretty thick.

    See, Julia not only puts Barbara down any time she gets the chance, she’s also seemingly obsessed with a woman named Georgia (Rita Bennett) whose apartment seems to be a revolving door of perpetually horny members of both sexes. Georgia also has a mysterious closet in the back of her room – what does she keep hidden away in there? When Julia is kept up all night by the moans of pleasure emanating from Georgia’s pad, the next morning she decides she’s going to figure out what’s really going on next door. Things get even more complicated when Julie discovers the wonders of a vibrator and Barbara decides she can no longer fight the incestuous feelings she has for her bitch-queen sister!

    Shot back to back with the first feature on the disc and making good use of Kaplan’s studio apartment again, Vibrations is a delightfully kinky black and white hyper-sexual melodrama that is as genuinely intriguing as it is strangely alluring. Sarno always had a knack for casting his films well, and Vibrations is just further evidence of that trait. Ms. Prevost and Ms. Lease are perfect in their respective roles. Sexy looking, sure, but able to handle the hot and heavy drama well enough to convince. Rita Bennett as the mysterious nymphomaniacal neighbor steals a few scenes here as well, particularly in the last half of the film where things go from weird to weirder very, very quickly. Peggy Steffans is also quite good as the nosy cleaning lady who walks the halls of the hotel.

    Shot with plenty of style, the film is quite well shot. Once again featuring frequent Sarno collaborator Steve Silverman behind the camera the movie makes great use of some quirky angles to help make the very basic set seem more interesting than it probably was in real life. The fact that Georgia has a chair that’s more like a throne than that’s used for, well, vibrations, is just one oddball visual touch that helps to make this picture as captivatingly screwy as it is.


    Film Movement presents All The Sins Of Sodom and Vibrations on a 50GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from a new ‘2k scan digital restorations’ and they look really good. The transfer for the first film looks similar to the source used on Vinegar Syndrome’s disc though it is more compressed and takes up roughly 4GBs less space on the disc (19GBs vs. VS’s 24 GBs which is odd as there are 10GBs of free space on the disc leftover). It’s also framed at 1.78.1 whereas VS’s transfer was 1.85.1. Contrast looks different too, but not drastically so. The transfer for Vibrations takes up just under 18GBs of space on the disc.

    Regardless, for we get nice clean whites, dark inky blacks and plenty of grey to fill in the mid-tones. Detail is quite strong in both pictures, not just in close-up shots but medium and long distance shots as well. The transfers are remarkably clean showing very little print damage outside of the odd speck here and there. Grain appears naturally, never overpowering the image or distracting, it looks just fine. There are no obvious issues with noise reduction nor are there any problems with edge enhancement to note either.

    The audio for both films is presented in English language Dolby Digital Mono, there are no alternate language options or subtitles provided. There’s minor hiss here and but it’s minor. Again, if this comes down to the available elements, it’s forgivable. Dialogue does remain easy enough to follow and for the most part the levels are properly balanced. The music used in each picture also tends to sound pretty decent. A lossless option would have been preferable here, but that didn’t happen.

    The main extras for this release are a trio of audio commentary tracks. The first one, for All The Sins Of Sodom, features associate producer and actress Peggy Steffans, the director's wife, and Sarno biographer Michael Bowen for a pretty interesting talk in which the pair discuss the history of the picture and how it relates to the other films that Sarno made for producer Morris Kaplan during this point in the director's career. Having recently returned from a stay in Sweden, Sarno made this film fast and cheap based around Kaplan's own photography studio. They discuss the cinematography and the few outdoor locations that we see and spend a fair bit of time talking about the cast of the picture as well. Steffans doesn’t recall a lot about the making of this particular film but she’s got some interesting memories from this period in her life where she and her late husband were making a really solid string of films.

    The commentary for Vibrations is provided by Tim Lucas. He starts of by pointing out Peggy Steffans roles as the cleaning lady before then talking about how the success of Inga would change their career. He then talks about how after returning from Sweden to make that film, he made All The Sins Of Sodom, Vibrations and Wall Of Flesh. He then details the involvement of Kaplan in the film, the use of his studio apartment, and how he distributed Sodom and Vibrations. Lucas also details what he can about the different cast members that pop up in the film, the Manhattan locations that are used and quite a bit more. There’s a second audio commentary provided for Vibrations as well, featuring Paige Davis and Peggy Steffans. Paige serves as a moderator here, chatting Steffans up about her time making low budget sexploitation pictures with Sarno, their work together in Sarno’s post Inga/Come Into My Bed career, the Kaplan connection and what he was like as a person (“He never left the apartment!”), why certain shots in the movie are framed the way that they are, how cinematographer Steve Silverman got along with the two of them and what he brought to certain pictures, how and why Sarno cast the films the way he did, and quite a bit more. Between these two tracks we get a lot of information – Lucas covers things from the critical perspective, making observations about the film’s effectiveness and the themes it plays with, while the second track lets Steffans take us back in time to her work on these films. Interesting stuff!

    Sarno himself shows up for an eight minute video interview conducted in 2009 where he elaborates on some of the same points that his wife made in the commentary tracks. He begins by explaining how his time in Sweden lead up to these films before explaining what he was trying to do with this picture and how he feels about it now, forty plus years since it was made.

    We also get trailers for Deep Throat II, Vampire Ecstasy and Vibrations. Menus and chapter selection are also included for each feature.

    Inside the keepcase alongside the Blu-ray disc is an insert booklet containing liner notes from Lucas who notes how these films were made before Sarno’s film Inga struck box office gold, changed his career and found he and his wife travelling back and forth between America and Sweden to work. He also discusses some of the themes that the films explore and puts them into context alongside some of Sarno’s other pictures.

    The Final Word:

    A pair of beautifully shot and unexpectedly compelling softcore soap operas, All The Sins Of Sodom and Vibrations receive a very nice Blu-ray release from Film Movement that rightly place these two films alongside some of Sarno’s better known efforts as a fine example of his directorial talent. The transfers are solid, the three commentary tracks do a great job of detailing the history of these two films and the movies themselves hold up really, really well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!